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Algerian Makrout with Dates

As-Salaamu Alaykum,

Makrout with Dates - a north African cookie made from semolina, filled with dates, traditionally fried (you can bake them if you prefer) till golden then soaked in honey. This sweet is popular to serve on special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid but can be enjoyed all year round.

Orange blossom water used throughout the making ensures a well balanced flavour between bitter and sweet.
The flattened diamond shape and decoration can be achieved with the use of a special mold or by hand/using a knife as I did.

At some point i would like to post a photo tutorial but if you struggle with my written instructions this how to make makrout may help.
Having tested 2 recipes the one I'm sharing is my family's favourite. It uses less butter resulting in a firmer cookie but if you prefer a softer, richer version try Makrout with Dates and Honey by Christine Benlafquih.

Makrout with Dates (fried)

Recipe taken and slightly adapted from sihem at bonoise recettes
Yields: approximately 30 


400 grams coarse semolina
80 ml melted salted butter
+ or - 120ml orange blossom water (depends of absorption quality of semolina)
200 grams pitted dates or date paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cassia)
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
Oil (i used sunflower) for frying
Approximately 300 grams runny clear Honey with 1 tablespoons orange blossom water


  1. In a small pan melt butter over medium heat, set aside. Measure semolina into a large bowl add the melted butter and mix (using right hand) until butter has coated every grain. Cover and set aside for 2 hours (1 hour minimum).
  2. Meanwhile pit dates and place in basket of couscousier and steam uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and place into medium sized bowl along with cinnamon and orange blossom water mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. After 2 hours uncover bowl of semolina and slowly add orange blossom water in the same manner as you added the butter mix / rake with your hand/fingers DO NOT KNEAD but gently press together until you get a smooth dough adding more water (tap) if needed. Cover and set aside to rest for 1 hour. 
  4. Shape cookies by dividing date paste into 3-4 pieces,  oil your hands and work surface then roll into thin logs. Divide dough into 3-4 pieces.Taking 1 log of dough make a deep indentation that runs the length of the dough and place the date log inside. Carefully close the dough around the filling, then roll  the dough back and forth a few times on your work surface to seal and make the dough smooth again. Gently flatten dough with your hands and divide by making 1 inch / 2 cm diagonal cuts. To decorate score each makrout using the back of a knife.
  5.  In a wide frying pan place oil until it's about 2.5cm deep . Heat on a medium to high heat until hot, (test a scrap piece of dough it should quickly bubble and come to the surface). Place a small pot on stove and heat honey until it's hot then turn heat off and add orange blossom water, stir and set aside.Fry cookies in batches (5 cookies per batch) until golden brown this should only take a few minutes so keep your eyes on the pan. Once cooked immediately transfer to pot of honey and leave a few minutes whilst you fry another batch of cookies. Transfer honey soaked cookies to a strainer/sieve with a bowl underneath, leave to strain then transfer cookies to a large baking sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 
Left over honey can be stored then used to drizzle over pancakes!

WARNING:-i apologise for any ads that may appear when clicking the sihem at bonoise recettes link above.

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My First Crème Caramel/Flan/Caramel Custard

As-Salaamu Alaykum,
Crème Caramel, A French classic that is sweet, soft, smooth and so satisfying!
For the most part I followed James Martin's recipe but instead of using dariole moulds I used ramekins.
As firsts go generally the results were pleasing  and I'm so glad I didn't burn the caramel as i used a non stick pan and to most that is a NO NO.
My crème caramels tasted slightly eggy which after some research could mean they were overcooked or my eggs weren't so fresh.
Useful Notes-
  1. Make sure oven temp is correct and check if cooked after 30 minutes instead of 40 minutes.
  2. Caramel - do not stir but tilt the pan to swirl the caramel and achieve even colour.
  3. Use fresh eggs for custard, older eggs = more eggy taste
  4. Do NOT whisk custard before pouring into ramekins but DO stir. Whisking = more bubbles = rubbery texture instead of silky smooth.

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Photos A Month

As-Salaamu Alaykum,
Have any of you ever given a child a camera/smart phone? try it (at your own risk) set the settings to auto and tell him/her no pics of people, animals etc...you will be surprised what beauty they can capture in the most ordinary things.
Here are some foodie photos by me, as well as some random ones by my son.
Makouda - Algerian Fried Potato patties, i followed this recipe

One of my favourites - Roast Chicken Legs

Nutella Milk (Edit: Idea came from Karima's Crafts)



Algerian Mesfouf - Steamed Couscous with Peas and Broad Beans

As-Salaamu Alaykum,

A simple and easy Algerian dish today, steamed couscous with peas and broad beans.

This dish is very light as there's no sauce but many Algerians eat this with buttermilk poured over or as a drink along with it.

Mesfouf with peas and broad beans

Serves 3


  • 250grams mix of Broad Beans and Peas frozen or fresh
  • 250grams Coucous
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil / Butter
To Serve: Buttermilk/Leban/Maslanka


  1. Boil a kettle full of water and carefully pour boiling water into bottom of couscousier. In the basket place your mix of peas and broad beans cover, reduce heat to simmer and steam  for 15 minutes. 
  2. In the mean time measure out your couscous into a large bowl, add a good glug of olive oil about one and half tablespoons and using a fork (or your right hand- the traditional way) mix into the couscous in a circular motion until all grains are coated, add 1/3 cup cold water or enough to just dampen the couscous and mix with a fork/hand again. Set aside.
  3. Once the peas and broad beans are cooked transfer to a bowl. Coat the bottom of the basket with a little olive oil (be careful the basket may still be hot) and then place back over the pot. Once you see the steam coming through the holes pour couscous into the basket, do not cover but steam for a good 30 minutes. 
  4. Once the couscous is tender but not mushy transfer to a bowl, add salt, olive oil/butter separate grains with a fork then stir in your steamed veg, check seasoning and then serve on it's own or with buttermilk.

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Lamb Rogan Josh (Dairy Free)

 As-Salaamu Alaykum,

I and many of you enjoy a good takeaway curry!

We could happily eat them more often but let's face it, they can strain the budget and most of the time are loaded with salt, fat and food dyes.

Not saying you can't indulge once in a while, after all this blog is 99% CAKE!
Swapping Ghee for Olive Oil and using potatoes instead of yoghurt as the natural thickener, you don't miss anything from your takeaway rogan josh, well probably the heat from chilli...BUT you do know the traditional Rogan Josh isn't supposed to blow your socks off but rather it's aromatic and mild.
I saw the original recipe in Hamyln All Colour Cookbook: 200 Curries by Sunil Vijayakar and just had to give it a try but I didn't have all the ingredients to hand (typical) and only wanted to make 2 servings rather than 4 as my small kids don't like curry just yet.

So, I halved the quantities in the original recipe, Swapped boneless lamb for boned, Vegetable Oil for Olive Oil, Lamb Stock for Chicken Stock Cube(you could just use water if your using boned lamb or vegetable stock) and 1 cinnamon stick for 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cassia) and everything worked out just fine! infact, beyond fine it was really a triumph Alhamdulillah.
The meat literally falls off the bone from the slow cooking then rapid boiling at the end so feel free to leave the bones in or if you prefer the easier route use chunks of boneless lamb.

Please note I didn't have to add any additional salt and pepper as the curry paste and stock cube contained enough for my palate but do taste towards the end of cooking and adjust as necessary.

Oh and if you like it hot, add in some diced chilli, seeds and all at the stage when you add the garlic and ginger to the pan.

What's your favourite curry?

Healthier Lamb Rogan Josh

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 2 hours


2 tablespoons Olive Oil 
approx 450 grams boned lamb or 300 grams boneless lamb, cut into large chunks 
1 large onion, 1/2 finely diced, 1/2 thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh root ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cassia)
3 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground with a pestle and mortar 
2 tablespoons medium curry paste (i used pataks rogan josh)
150 grams fresh tomatoes, grated 
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato purée (double concentrate)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 chicken or vegetable stock cube dissolved in 400 ml water, freshly boiled from kettle
3 average potatoes kept whole or 2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
salt and pepper 
roughly chopped fresh coriander, to garnish


  1. Heat half the oil in chosen cooking pot and cook the lamb until browned on each side, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add remaining oil then add onion. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom and a splash of water, Stir-fry for a minute and then add curry paste, tomato purée and lamb. Stir-fry again for 2 minutes and then stir in the tomatoes, sugar, water/stock.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 1 hour 15 minutes, add in potatoes and continue cooking until the lamb is tender and the potatoes are cooked, (it's OK if they fall apart) towards the end of cooking remove the lid and rapidly boil until the curry is to desired consistency. Remove from heat and serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander.

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